Oral Cancer: Signs, Causes, and Types

dentures with cigarette and ash conveying oral cancer

Oral cancer is separated into two categories based on where it occurs in the mouth. Oral cancer can develop in the oral cavity (inside lips and cheeks, gums, teeth, roof of the mouth and front two-thirds of tongue) or in the oropharynx (middle area of throat, tonsils and base of tongue). Each year over 10,000 lives are claimed by oral cancer, but early detection can help save a life and result in positive treatment outcomes.


Oral cancer can develop in the mouth or throat and it is important to look out for common signs like:

  • Persisting sore or irritation
  • White or red or patches
  • Pain, sore areas and numbness
  • Lumps, rough spots or small eroded areas in the mouth
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing or moving tongue or jaw
  • A shift in your bite or how you’re used to your teeth lining up when you bite down

If you notice any of these symptoms, call your dentist and schedule an appointment with them. Though having one or more of these symptoms does not always mean oral cancer, it is best to get it checked out and to take preventative steps.

Risk Factors

Medical research has identified a handful of factors that actually increase the risk of developing oral cancer. The most at-risk group of people for developing oral cancer are smokers and those over the age of fifty who drink a lot of alcohol. Along with these groups, men are twice as likely to develop oral cancer as compared to women. Those who have contracted certain strains of HPV are also at a higher risk. Regular dental check-ups are important for everybody to have done, but especially for these at-risk groups of people.

Treatment & Prevention

If you notice a sign of oral cancer, calling your dentist and remaining calm is important. Together with your dentist, a diagnosis, treatment plan and preventative care will be created to make sure your mouth stays healthy.

To schedule your dental appointment, contact local Newburgh, NY dentist Dr. Michael Koumas.


Mouth Healthy

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